This release is part of the ‘Birth of …’ series from
Solo Musica. It aims to present some of the oldest known
compositions of music for solo instruments and groupings played
on the oldest available and still viable instruments. Notable
is that all seven composers that make up this programme lived
during the lifetime of J.S. Bach. The booklet notes state that
all the scores apart from the Biber and Pisendel are receiving
their world première recordings.
Clearly an important feature of the disc is the instruments
used.Read more Munich-born and bred soloist Rebekka Hartmann has chosen
to play two baroque violins from Cremona. The first instrument
is an early Antonio Stradivari (1675) and the second an Nicolò
Amati ‘Rethi’ (1669). She uses modern stringing and a
period bow for all the scores except her modern bow on the Rust
The opening score is Westhoff’s five movement Suite in A
major published in 1683. From Dresden, for over twenty years
Westhoff was a member of the Dresden Hofkapelle. According to
Wikipedia the suite is the earliest known multi-movement
score for solo violin. I was most impressed by the variety of
moods that Hartmann produced in Westhoff’s Suite. The
Prelude switches between a sorrowful atmosphere and the
need for virtuosity, contrasted with the determined stance of
the Allemande. Next comes a stately Courante,
the yearning character of the Sarabande and finally a
Biber was born in Wartenberg, Bohemia (now Stráž pod Ralskem,
Czech Republic) in 1644. From 1670 he settled in Salzburg in
the service of Maximilian Gandolph the Prince Archbishop of
Salzburg. One of the most important violinists and composers
in the history of the violin Biber is probably the best known
of all seven composers on the disc. By far the most famous score
Biber wrote was his remarkable set of Mystery Sonatas (or
Rosary Sonatas) from around 1676. The final piece of
the Mystery Sonatas is a Passacaglia for solo
violin which Hartmann has chosen to play for this project. Primarily
a meditative score the substantial G minor Passacaglia is
performed with utmost concentration and assurance.
A Bavarian from Cadolzburg, Pisendel had met the great masters:
J.S. Bach, Telemann and Vivaldi. He is best remembered for leading
the Dresden Court Orchestra for over thirty years. Represented
here by the three movement A minor Sonata I enjoyed the
moody pleadings and intensity of the opening movement and the
swirling sounds of the Allegro. At nearly nine minutes
the substantial final Giga - Variatione abounds in variety
and appealing melody.
A pupil of Alessandro Scarlatti and Corelli, Francesco Geminiani
was born in Lucca, Italy. Living in London for a number of years,
it seems that in 1715 he performed one of his scores at the
London court of George I with the keyboard played by Handel.
Geminiani is represented here by his very brief Etüde an
engaging and virtuosic piece here played so adeptly.
It is thought that Nicola Matteis was born in Naples and came
to England around the 1670s. Towards the end of the seventeenth
century Matteis became a leading violin virtuoso in London.
Lasting eight minutes in performance the Fantasia is
reasonably agreeable if designed within a rather uneventful
dynamic range and with little in the way of variety.
Parisian by birth Guillemain studied in Turin. Returning to
Paris in 1737 Guillemain became a musicien ordinaire
to Louis XV of France. Published in 1762 the single movement
score Amusement pour le violon seul La Furstemberg lasts
nearly eight minutes and is inventive, melodic and highly memorable.
The final score is the Partite in D minor by Friedrich
Wilhelm Rust. Born in Wörlitz, Germany in 1739 Rust certainly
had an impressive roster of tutors. He studied the keyboard
with Wilhelm Friedemann Bach and Carl Phillip Emanuel Bach,
and the violin with Höckh and F. Benda, G. Benda, Tartini and
Pugnani. From 1766 he made his home in Dessau, Saxony becoming
established as music-director of the town’s theatre. The modern
bow that Hartmann uses on the Rust Partite adds considerable
weight to the instrument’s tone. Cast in five movements the
Partite in D minor is an attractive score opened by a
thickly-textured Grave. A buoyant Fuga precedes
the lively and melodic Gigue; the Ciacona-Gigue feels
especially confidently played and the concluding movement Courante-Gigue
is briskly taken requiring significant virtuosity.
Hartmann plays brilliantly and extremely sympathetically throughout.
Her personality is engaging and I was especially impressed with
the range of colours and textures she drew from these early
Recorded at the Holzmühle, Seeshaupt deep in the countryside
some forty km south west of Munich, the recording studio is
located in what looks like the loft of a converted farm house.
I found the sound quality impressive with the richly honeyed
timbre of the chosen instruments most agreeable. The release
on Solo Musica is nicely presented in a gatefold sleeve
with an interesting and informative essay.
In reality the exposed nature of these rare baroque pieces for
solo violin should appeal mainly to the specialist listener.
However, the attraction of five world première recordings combined
with such impressive playing makes this a valuable release.
-- Michael Cookson, MusicWeb International Read less
Interesting concept, well-executedOctober 13, 2016By P. Wells (Kennebunk, ME)See All My Reviews"As someone with a keen interest in early violin repertoire in general, and works for unaccompanied violin in particular, I ordered this CD as soon as I learned about it. The music is very well-played and well-recorded. The annotation is good, though perhaps briefer than one might wish for. Nevertheless, this is a first-rate production all the way around."Report Abuse